WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS
Alex Delaware’s debut. Having written novels for 13 years without any success, this book was my (alleged) final attempt to publish full-length fiction before having to face up to monumental inadequacy. I say alleged because it’s unwise to underestimate the power of the obsessive-compulsive personality, so who knows what it would’ve taken to get me to finally knock it off?
I quit my job as a medical school professor to write BOUGH, and struggled to remedy what I felt were my two main deficiencies as a writer: cowardice about exploring my own life experiences, and inadequate plot. I finished the book in 1981, whereupon it was promptly rejected by several agents, one of whom opined, “You’d be a good non-fiction writer.” Another said, “I kind of like it, but my secretary doesn’t.” The book sat in a drawer for two years until I connected with the gentleman and scholar who’s remained my agent and close friend for twenty years, Barney Karpfinger. He sold it quickly. Finally, I was a writer, not a delusion-wracked loser. My advance payment was so small that I could’ve flipped burgers at McDonalds and done better. The publisher held the book until 1985, not really sure how to classify it and fully intending to relegate it to instant obscurity. The reading public felt differently and it became a word-of-mouth best-seller. No one was more surprised than I. Except, perhaps, my publisher.
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